Champaign County lost a longtime philanthropist, community leader and friend to many on Sunday. Betsy Bohl died of a brain tumor at the age of 69 at her Urbana home. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Steven Bohl, and daughters Lindsey and Lauren and their families. Her obituary appears on Page 2 .
“When it came to philanthropy, I think of them as a team,” said Mike Major of Betsy and Steve Bohl. The county Chamber of Commerce presented the couple with the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2014.
Among those who helped Mrs. Bohl found the Johnny Appleseed Montessori School and worked with her on the Champaign County Arts Council, Major said she always worked to benefit the community.
“Betsy Bohl was a very strong advocate for the entire community in so many ways, including starting up the Montessori school, really the originator of that idea,” Major said. He added that she never hesitated when she saw a need in the community, “whether founding the Montessori school or helping with the bike trail or the YMCA. She was a quiet, powerful force behind so many good things that happened in the community, in addition to being a good friend.”
“They’ve been devoted patrons of the arts and of the Arts Council,” Heather Brackney, executive director of the Arts Council, said of the Bohls. She noted they have been generous sponsors of that organization’s piano series.
In addition, Betsy Bohl was in on the planning stages of the Champaign Family YMCA, the Simon Kenton Trail and the Art Affair on the Square.
“The entire Champaign Family YMCA family, including our board of trustees, is saddened by Betsy’s passing,” Paul Waldsmith, the Y’s CEO, said. “Her commitment to the YMCA over the last 20 years exemplifies, to say the least, service to the community.” She was a charter member of the local Y, a past board president and chaired the membership committee until her health declined, Waldsmith said, adding that as a Y member she attended four or five fitness classes a week.
“She was so vibrant,” he said. “She had a great mind, a great personality, but was an excellent listener. She was one of those people everyone is going to miss.”
Nancy Lokai Baldwin, president of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders, remembers scouting the area with Bohl to find the best paths for what would become the Simon Kenton Multi-use Trail.
“She was a positive influence for the development of the trail,” Lokai Baldwin said. A charter member of the Pathfinders, Bohl served as treasurer until this past July. Lokai Baldwin said that as treasurer, she dealt with grants and coordinated with the various government agencies. Dr. and Mrs. Bohl used the trails and helped with spring cleanups.
“She was a wonderful person,” Lokai Baldwin said. “She was a great asset to the community and will be hard to replace.”
Bohl was called upon to help establish the annual Art Affair on the Square.
“I had asked her to be on the planning committee because I knew she loved the arts and would enjoy it and that I could depend on her,” said Sara Kerns, who headed the annual event until a couple of years ago. “For the next 11 years she was involved in every aspect (of the event) and was particularly involved with selecting artists. She’s irreplaceable.”
Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1773.